Tag Archives: movies

More Craftiness…”Stitch Wars”

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This exhibit looks wonderful. I want to own one of everything.

I think my favorites are the little ewoks…or the enormous Chewy…and some of the crochet and felt work is pretty mind-blowing.

From the Flickr Set:

This artwork is part of Bear and Bird Gallery’s “Stitch Wars” exhibition in Lauderhill, Florida. Exhibition runs July 18 – August 29, 2009, for more information visit our website www.bearandbird.com

Discovered on Twitter, via @craftster…

- Jenn

Watchm–dear god, this thing is over three hours long!

My Watchmen Director’s Cut arrived in the mail yesterday. I watched it. Here are my thoughts…

Liked:

*Dr. Manhattan disappearing all the reporters and cameras, the way he did in the comic, instead of jetting right up to Mars.

*More Rorschach. His character gets more time, and he’s truer to the comic. The psych-evaluation is more detailed, and you get to see more of his weird attitude toward Laurie, and women in general.

*Hollis Mason’s death and Dan’s reaction. This scene was my favorite. Despite the terrible un-scariness of the knot-tops (they look like a bunch of pudgy middle-aged grips and dollies and best boys and whatever other sorts of people work on movie lots), the scene itself was great. When it is switching in and out of Hollis Mason’s perspective and you see that he’s fighting all his old-timey nemeses…it’s quite touching. And very beautifully put together.

*The tiny bit of extra interaction between the Comedian and Laurie in her flashback.

*Sweet holographic cover, dudes!!

*Extra blue wang…j/k guys. I don’t even know if there is more. I have some sort of a blue wang filter on my life goggles that prevents me from noticing it until someone blatantly points it out to me.

*The general feeling that the whole movie makes a lot more sense.

Did not like:

*The extra Laurie. I felt just fine about her performance in the theatrical cut because she was every bit as lame as the Laurie in the comic. The director’s cut adds some long and unnecessary scenes that try to make her out to be some sort of tough no-nonsense badass. It’s in no way true to the original character, only serves to highlight her subpar acting skills and plays like something out of a completely different movie. That said, I DID like that they focused more on her relationship with Jon as a military imperative.

*Not specifically a gripe with the director’s cut, but now that Chris mentioned it, I cannot help but notice the glaring lack of saxophone on the soundtrack.

*Also not a director’s cut gripe, but the old people makeup is still really distracting.

And finally…

Had me going, “WTF??!!”:

*”Mommy, that man in the ship, that man….IS HE JESUS?”

…IS….THAT MAN….JESUS??

I will bet anyone $10 that Zach Snyder LOVED that line. I bet he was like, “YES! YES THIS IS IT!” and everyone else was like, “Man, actually that’s kind of lame. I think we might have to leave that out.” and Zach Snyder was like, “Screw you guys, I’M THE DIRECTOR! It’s goin’ in the director’s cut!”

In closing:

lolowl

-Jenn

My Hormones Were Just Taken to Warp Speed.

I am back from the dead to say one thing:

Star Trek was awesome.

Star Trek was so awesome it is almost gross.

Star Trek ended and I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and frustration that I couldn’t just sit back down and watch it again.

I came this close to seeing Star Trek twice yesterday, but I backed down at the last minute, which is cool because it was sold out anyway.

I am not a Star Trek expert, by any means. I know what a Tribble is, and I’m relatively up on who was sleeping with whom on TNG, but in general, I am a Star Trek novice. Luckily, this movie manages to give a huge nod to the old-timey Trekkies while accomplishing a complete reboot of the whole freaking franchise. My mother–who used to record all of the original re-runs and episodes of the Next Generation, who took us to see multiple Star Trek films in the theater and who possesses a much more encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek in general–loved it, so it must be pretty great.

The performances were extremely well-done. The actors managed to play their characters convincingly, but without resorting to cartoonish imitations of the original cast. No stilted, melodramatic Captain Kirk voice. Scotty was just a loud Scottish dude. No funny Leonard Nimoy sing-songy deadpan. And I thought Abram’s vision of Chekov as a 17 year old with a heavy “v’s are w’s” drawl was pretty brilliant.

The story was well-written and well-executed and managed to turn the entire Star Trek world on its head while staying true to 40-some years of history and tradition. Yes, I just referenced “Star Trek history and tradition”. I’m dealing.

But of course, the most important factor catapulting this film from “pretty awesome” to deserving its own seat in the HISTORIC HALLS OF CINEMATIC GREATNESS is this:

Sexy Star Trek

Almost everyone in this film is HIGHLY BEDDABLE. The people they got for this movie are so disgustingly attractive it makes me feel like puking. In all seriousness, I am not a person who watches movies just so I can drool over the bodies on screen, but DAMN. DAMN IT, INTERNET. I’M A HUMAN BEING, NOT A FILM CRITIC. You can’t expect me to sit through two hours of attractive people in skin-tight jumpsuits alternately trading witty insults and kicking the crap out of each other without having my mind (and loins) completely boggled.

You know what? I can’t even review this movie right now because my brain is filled with images of sexy sexy Captain Kirk and **SPOILER ALERT** angsty Spock with hotass Lt. Uhura all up in his grill. It is clouding my judgment! I’m not sure if I just saw the greatest Star Trek movie ever made, or if I am having my hormones shamelessly manipulated by JJ Abrams and Co.

Chris, please review this movie soon so I can make sense of my feelings. If you need me I’ll be over at Oaktree Cinemas, watching it for the second time and taking secret camera phone footage for use in the Spock/Kirk/Uhura fan videos I intend to post all over YouTube. If you go with Jane and she tells you she has no idea what I’m talking about, please know that she is a LIAR (a considerate girlfriend, but a LIAR nonetheless).

Please send help soon. Thank you.

-Jenn

Catching Up On Some Sleeper

So I recently burned through Ed Brubaker’s *ahem* slept-on Wildstorm superpowered spy series, Sleeper. It has all the great plot twists and shoot-em-up action of say, Milligan’s Human Target and the high-wire tension of films like Infernal Affairs. Sleeper follows deep cover agent Holden Carver who’s been rising through the ranks of an international criminal organization to determine its ultimate plans. Placed by International Operations’ (I/O) chief, John Lynch (the Nick-Fury-also-ran you may remember from Gen13), Carver is slowly gaining the trust and attention of the organization’s leader Tao (the test-tube-baby that became a super-genius villain in Alan Moore’s WildCATS run). On the cusp of entering Tao’s inner circle and having access to his plans, all knowledge of Carver’s deep cover status gets lost after Lynch is shot in the head and goes into a coma. And the mastermind behind Lynch’s attempted assasination is, of course Tao– casting doubt as to how good Carver’s cover really is.

As far as the government and his former fiance is concerned, during Carver’s last I/O mission, he betrayed his country and stole the alien artifact he was sent to retrieve.This artifact bonded to Carver’s body (killing his teammates in the process) making him a sort of pain-battery. He’s not invulnerable but he doesn’t feel pain, and can actually absorb it and retransmit it to others by touch. And while he’s doing all the dirty work to gain the trust of his villainous overseer, Carver gets intwined with one of Tao’s other enforcers, Miss Misery a chain-smoking redhead who gets physically stronger for every bad thing that she does.

Overall, Sleeper is a sharply paced and entertaining whiplash of a story with some cleverly conceived superpowers placed on some deeply desperate and conflicted characters. The story begs to be adapted for the big screen, it clearly draws on a lot of cinematic pulp and TV influences, even titling the two 12 issue runs as “Season 1″ and “Season 2.” Enter buzzkill via The Hollywood Reporter: Tom Cruise set to star in Raimi-adapted film of Sleeper. And aside from Tom Cruise being a loon, Sam Raimi really isn’t that good a director. I love the Evil Dead stuff as much as the next geek but those Spidey films stank. There were some decent performances but overall Raimi’s strengths lie in humor (and awkwardly shoehorning in 9-11 flag-waving), but he’s pretty dull when it comes to actually shooting an action sequence and only so-so at handling the romance and drama.

And I really, really, really don’t want to see Cruise in this movie– we’ve seen him do various (the same) interpolations of his shark-grinned super spy hanging off buildings, cliffs, trains Anthony Edward’s nipples, motorcycles, etc…  For the record, I didn’t need to know he was a batshit Scientological believer in alien lava souls to dislike his acting, I just needed Cocktail. If Cruise opts to take the more challenging and off-type role of say, Tao maybe this movie has hope but, if he predictably takes the lead as Holden Carver… I’d say stick a fork in it, this turkey is done for.

Meanwhile, in a CBR interview Brubaker mentioned he’d like to see Cate Blanchett take the role of Miss Misery, while the Scotsman blogging over at Bad Librarianship, says Sleeper artist Sean Phillips favors, “Rachel Weisz, but… ‘they’re all too skinny.'” I think Blanchett would be interesting and Weisz could certainly pull off a damn flinty stare, but Mad Men ‘s  zaftig bombshell Christina Hendricks would be my pick. I mean sure, Blanchett has got a whiff of Veronica Lake as Brubaker pointed out, but Hendricks has a lock on noir-apropo smoldering sass and not to get too crude, but she is like damn! And  ka-pow! By that I mean, the sound of your girlfriend slapping you for ogling AMC’s Emmy-nominated original series just a little too much. In addition to being a fine actress, she’s a handsome lady is alls I’m saying.

Iron Manners, Summer Blockblusters, & Boys Behaving Badly

“My whole thing is that that I saw ‘The Dark Knight’. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved ‘The Prestige’ but didn’t understand ‘The Dark Knight’. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so fucking smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? Fuck DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.” -Robert Downey Jr. in this Moviehole interview

With The Dark Knight on its way to usurping Star Wars (but probably not Titanic) for box office sales, the heat on Marvel’s most successful superhero movie has cooled considerably. Some folks have gone so far as to refer to Iron Man, as the “Platonic ideal of the superhero movie,”  (while still saying Dark Knight was better!) but for me it was just a case of ingenious casting in a perfectly workman-like action movie. Robert Downey Jr.’s charisma held the entire movie together, and in it’s best moments it felt like paying $10 to hang out with him for a couple hours. And $10 for a couple hours of hanging out and bullshitting with Robert Downey Jr.? That my friend, is a bargain. The CGI action sequences were probably the least interesting part of this purported action movie, which is something Marvel should take note of if they really want to make that Avengers movie they’re talking about. (And an even more valuable lesson if they ever want to make Hulk movie that people like). And so what if Robert Downey Jr. seems to be petulantly baiting a Marvel/DC nerd feud? I mean, a major Hollywood actor with a million dollar salary is basically trolling for a flame war, isn’t that just, adorable?

And while it’s all still rumors and general tabloid idiocy, I just want to come out and say that Angelina Jolie as Catwoman is among the shittiest ideas ever committed to type. At this point in her illustrious career, Jolie is little more than a pair of pouty, bloated lips that favor holding a gun sideways, you know gangsta style. And any nerds who would favor Kate Beckinsale (ugh, don’t even want to bother linking to those threads) in the hypothetical role (or any acting role for that matter) are immediately asked to stop reading anything I write ever again, and consider better spending their time and opinions elsewhere, or rather in Elseworlds. Speculation can be fun (and surely it’s the foundation of fiction in a general sense,) but I find speculation of this sort about as enjoyable as a speculum.

Aaand speaking of man-children groping at fantasy, The ISB among other great comic blogs have posted commentary from John DiBello of Bully Says about sexual harassment at the recent San Diego Comic-Con [emphasis is mine]:

Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: “These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, ’cause I wanted to see what her reaction was.” This was only one example of several instances of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.

2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the “prettiest girl at the con.” They [then] entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.

3. Another friend of mine, a woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the same section of the floor confirmed he’d targeted several women with the same sort of abuse and criticism.

Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it’s to professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter what you look like or how you’re dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.

On Saturday, the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining “Convention Policies,” which contain rules against smoking, live animals, wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.

Page three of the book contains a “Where Is It?” guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There’s no general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning the desk; she’s sympathetic to the situation but who doesn’t have a clear answer to my question: “What’s Comic-Con’s policy and method of dealing with complaints about harassment?” She directs me to the nearest security guard, who is also sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report the incidents with the names of their harassers, there’s little that can be done.

“I understand that,” I tell them both, “but what I’m asking is more hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what’s the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where should they go?” But this wasn’t a question either could answer.

So, according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something like “Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con Office in room XXX.”

The first step to preventing such harassment is giving its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one more rep-tape loophole to hide behind.

I enjoyed Comic-Con. I’m looking forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose experiences I’ve retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn’t have happened at all, and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.

I don’t understand why there’s no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and safe.

Maybe it’s because I’m socially acculturated to norms born in the aggressively liberal D.I.Y. punk scene (wherein house-meetings might discuss how a roommate may or may not contribute to the anti-oppression atmosphere and ethos of the house,) or maybe it’s because I’m a sane human being who has a basic conception of respect for others’ personal boundaries– but it’s fucking revolting to hear about grown men who feel entitled to abuse and harass anyone in this way. Of course nerds aren’t the only ones guilty of sexual harrassment and objectifying women, and while one could create an extensive website that catalogues examples of comic book misogyny, perhaps it’s better to address Comic-Con as an institution and tell its organizers that individuals need to be protected from harassment. One might even send them an email saying such.

In summary: my fellow nerds, I beseech thee to be better behaved so that I might not be so embarassed to be your friend and count myself as one of ye. Maybe if you/we weren’t all such assholes, we wouldn’t have to pay Robert Downey Jr. to hang out with us.

Ultimate Assasin-ine

Taking place in a universe where super-villains have killed all the heroes and divvied up the world amongst themselves, Mark Millar’s Wanted is a problematic power fantasy, even if one ignores the seemingly sanitized Hollywood adaptation starring Angelina Jolie’s tattoos and blimp lips. Violent and prurient in increasingly dull ways, Wanted‘s problems are largely in the lack of meaningful details. The main character Wesley Gibson feels emasculated, hates his boring office job, attempts to express his unique identity through bourgeois consumer choices, and is paralyzed by confrontation. He’s a mess because his father left his mother while he was still an infant– the sort of cliché that is supposed to neatly explain the miseries of Wesley’s clichéd life, but does so only in the most unsatisfactory way. Wanted wants you to identify with the “quiet desperation” of Wesley’s life, and concludes with mixed messages about those whose desires resonate with Wesley’s rise to infamy.

Other than the dropping of brand names and off-hand references to food that he likes, the first real sense of Wesley we get is that he’s “more than a little afraid of the scary fucking bitch,” that is his “African-American boss.” This is also the first place where I started to realize that I might have some serious problems with this book. Wesley, in his internal monologue continually refers to his “African-American boss,” a figure never given a name, but who torments him as a cipher threatening in both her blackness and lack of femininity (she’s butch in both physical appearance and character).

But before we’re able to absorb the latent racism and Wesley’s white-man-as-victim-complex, the Fox, a tarted-up stand-in for Hally Barry (in an outfit that echoes both the fiasco of Catwoman and the promise of nudity in Swordfish) crashes into Wesley’s life. The Fox reveals that Wesley’s father was, “The Killer,” essentially the baddest ass hitman slash super-villain that ever was and that Wesley’s just inherited his fortune. Soon, the Fox promises that she’ll be whisking Wesley away to Hogwarts where he can finally achieve his magical destiny and confront his father’s killer “He-who-must-not-be-named” in a climactic duel to the death! Sarcasm aside any similarity to Harry Potter are only those which manifest in all adolescent power fantasies of inheritance and destiny. But Wanted‘s manifestation of that fantasy is particularly ugly and I’m still wondering how much of it is by design and how much of its repugnance is inherent.

After a training montage where once ineffectual Wesley actualizes his hidden super-human ability to shoot a gaping hole into any target he sets his eyes on, the character is transformed into an Eminem look-alike in a ninja-ish black leather combat suit. JG Jones’ art is sharp throughout, but in utilizing Eminem as a reference point we get more indicators that Wanted is a white boy’s fantasy world. A white boy’s fantasy wherein he gets to work out all the racism and misogyny (we’re thankfully spared homophobia for the most part) that is his birthright, otherwise denied by political correctness and whatever other leveling forces have impacted white entitlement. It’s much like Falling Down for the iPod generation, or rather the Columbine generation where power fantasy has mixed interminably with real life violence.

Some might say I’m not getting the point of Wanted. It’s not supposed to reflect the good but the bad in a world where the villains have claimed victory. And if Millar gets to pepper that villainous world with his stock references and reinterpolations of classic comic book characters, then all the violence and hate is really pointing towards a post-modern critique of our own popular culture. Brian K. Vaughn, an author whom I admire and respect greatly writes in the book’s introduction that Millar,

“perfectly [subverts] the classic hero’s journey familiar to every comic fan… [challenging] us to think about the mundane world we’re all a part of, and the hidden price of entering the hidden special world we all one day dream of joining… Those of you who refuse to see what the conclusion is really saying will probably want to burn this beautiful collection the second you put it down… I think Wanted has the bravest, most interesting finale to a comic ever.”

And I can almost see where one might be convinced that Wanted‘s bile has targets and intentions much different from those that I am reading– but I can also flatly disagree with Vaughn’s assessment of its ending. It’s not a life-shattering plot spoiler to tell you that after all the bullets, boobs, and wah-wah-white-boy-who-never-knew-his-dad, that the final two pages are a metatextual indictment of consumerism and passivity pointed directly at the reader.

Comic collectors obsessed with gadgets and collecting artifacts of their youth being particularly guilty of ignoring the political reality that surrounds them; where real villains rig elections, ignore and inflict suffering upon the poor, and generally get away with murder. A worthy message that deserves greater exploration in most media. But ending the story like this is telling not showing, and it’s two pages in almost two-hundred pages of ugliness in which consequences only effect those with the slowest drawn gun.

-chris

p.s. Why the fuck does “The Killer” look like Tommy Lee Jones?